Downtime costs and consequences worsening, according to new report

The digital infrastructure sector is struggling to achieve a measurable reduction in outage rates and severity, and the financial consequences and overall disruption from outages and downtime are steadily increasing, according to Uptime Institute, which has released the findings of its 2022 annual Outage Analysis report.

“Digital infrastructure operators are still struggling to meet the high standards that customers expect and
service level agreements demand – despite improving technologies and the industry’s strong investment
in resiliency and downtime prevention,” said Andy Lawrence, founding member and executive director, Uptime Institute Intelligence.

“The lack of improvement in overall outage rates is partly the result of the immensity of recent investment in digital infrastructure, and all the associated complexity that operators face as they transition to hybrid, distributed architectures,” said Lawrence. “In time, both the technology and operational practices will improve, but at present, outages remain a top concern for customers, investors, and regulators. Operators will be best able to meet the challenge with rigorous staff training and operational procedures to mitigate the human error behind many of these failures.”

Uptime’s annual outage analysis is unique in the industry and draws on multiple surveys, information
supplied by Uptime Institute members and partners, and its database of publicly reported outages.

Key findings in the report include the fact that high outage rates have not changed significantly. One in five organizations reports experiencing a ‘serious’ or ‘severe’ outage (involving significant financial losses, reputational damage, compliance breaches, and in some severe cases, loss of life) in the past three years, marking a slight upward trend in the prevalence of major outages. According to Uptime’s 2022 Data Center Resiliency Survey, 80 per cent of data center managers and operators have experienced some type of outage in the past three years.

The report also finds that the proportion of outages costing over $100,000 has soared in recent years. Over 60 per cent of failures result in at least $100,000 in total losses, up substantially from 39 per cent in 2019. The share of outages that cost upwards of $1 million increased from 11 per cent to 15 per cent over that same period.

Power-related outages account for 43 per cent of outages that are classified as significant (causing downtime and financial loss). The single biggest cause of power incidents is uninterruptible power supply (UPS) failures.

Meanwhile, prolonged downtime is becoming more common in publicly reported outages. The gap between the beginning of a major public outage and full recovery has stretched significantly over the last five years. Nearly 30 per cent of these outages in 2021 lasted more than 24 hours, a disturbing increase from just eight per cent in 2017.

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